Disassembling Translation Tools: Google Translate Vs Microsoft Translator

Whether you’re traveling, learning foreign languages, or owning a business, tools like Google Translate and Microsoft Translator make it easier for everyone in the world to understand each other. But while both can translate text, speech and images, each has its own characteristics. So everyone on the showdown train! Next stop: translation station.


Before we dive in too deep and start comparing features, let’s take a quick look at our translation titans:

  • Google Translate : A free translation tool from Google that can be used through a browser , mobile browser , Android or iOS app . Both browser and mobile browser versions can translate text and web pages, and the non-mobile browser can also translate some documents. The Android and iOS app can translate text, real-time speech, images, web pages and even live video for some languages. There is also an API that developers can use to create their own translation tools.
  • Microsoft Translator : A free translation tool from Microsoft that can be used in your browser or mobile browser (via Bing Translator ) and has apps for Windows , Windows Phone , iOS , Android, and apps for Apple Watch and Android Wear . In addition, Microsoft Translator can be integrated with other Microsoft applications such as Microsoft Office, Skype, and Visual Studio using the Microsoft Translator API (paid for business applications). Browser versions can only translate text and web pages, but Microsoft Translator apps can work with text, real-time speech, and images.

Google Translate has long been a favorite when it comes to translation tools, but thanks to some major updates, Microsoft Translator (also known as Bing Translate) has been catching up over the past couple of years. Now they are both pretty comparable when it comes to functionality.

Google has nearly double the number of languages, but not all of them receive full support.

A translation tool should be judged not only by the number of languages ​​it can translate into, it is certainly an important component. The more languages ​​the better. 103 languages Google Translate outperforms Microsoft Translator in 54 languages . But before we summarize Google Translate, it’s important to note that not all languages ​​in their directory have the same level of support.

Google Translate supports 103 languages, but not all languages ​​support all features . For example, French can be translated using all six Translate features: print, write, speak, film, watch, and offline (more on that later). Arabic works with everything except snapshots. And Hausa , which is mostly spoken in Nigeria, can only be translated by text. So it’s great that Google Translate has such a wide range, but once you move beyond the more widely spoken languages, the tool becomes essentially a dictionary.

When it comes to the 54 languages ​​of Microsoft Translator, it’s a similar story, but on a much smaller scale . You can only use real-time speech translation for Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. But 44 out of 54 Microsoft Translator languages ​​can be used offline, whereas Google Translate only supports about half of them for offline use. Google has more languages ​​in total, and a few more are available for offline use, but they are both on the same level when it comes to fully supporting translation into the same popular languages.

Google lets you translate videos in real time, Microsoft makes communication easier

As mentioned earlier, Google Translate has six main features:

  1. Type : you enter text in your browser or on your phone.
  2. Write : You write a word or phrase with your finger on the touchscreen.
  3. Conversation : You speak into your phone’s microphone and it translates what you say in real time.
  4. Snap : you take a photo of the text and it translates it.
  5. Look : you point your phone’s camera at some text, and it translates it in real time.
  6. Offline Mode: You can use the above functions without internet connection.

Google Translate’s live video translation feature is what really sets it apart from Microsoft’s offerings. It works the same way as the Word Lens app , where it actually changes the text you see right in front of your eyes. It can make reading signs and navigating in unfamiliar areas quick and easy.

Microsoft Translator has five main features:

  1. Text : you enter text in your browser or on your phone.
  2. Speech : You speak into your phone’s microphone and it translates what you say in real time.
  3. Photo : you take a photo of the text and he translates it.
  4. Talk Mode : You and the other person speak into your phone’s microphone and this is translated in real time.
  5. Offline Mode: You can use the above functions without internet connection.

Translator’s real-time conversation mode is where it really shines. The screen is split into two halves and you choose the language for each side. Let’s say, for example, I wanted to talk to someone who only speaks Spanish. I would choose English for my side of the screen and Spanish for their side. We then simply press the microphone button on the appropriate side of the screen to speak, and the app does the rest. It is possible to have a conversation in real time using the conversation feature in Google Translate, but this is much more awkward and less conducive to real-time back and forth conversation.

Once you find the translation, both apps allow you to listen to the audio file so you know the correct pronunciation. It’s not available for all languages, but it’s nice to have it. You can also expand the translation so that it fills the entire screen if you want to show someone a phrase, such as a hint. Both apps also keep records of your past translations so you can quickly find what you’re looking for. Google Translate lets you add translations to your favorites to keep them forever, and Microsoft Translator does the same, but with pins.

Microsoft Translator does one more thing that gives it a slight advantage: it has a built-in phrasebook to quickly find phrases for travel routes, residence, health, etc. Nice to have at the moment, but it’s also useful if you’re really trying to learn the language you are translating.

Google offers more languages, but Microsoft prefers quality over quantity

Google Translate video translations in real time are magical, there is no doubt about it. And the recent addition of Google Neural Machine Translation has improved the accuracy of whole sentences by 60% for complex workflows such as translating from Chinese to English. Add that to the fact that Google Translate offers more languages ​​in general, cantranslate text in other Android apps , and it becomes obvious why it is currently the most popular choice.

However, I no longer feel like Google Translate’s features allow it to outperform its competitors. Live video translation is awesome, but I don’t know how often I would use it, just doing the same thing, just taking a picture (which both apps do great with). And I’m not sure who the handwriting feature is for, but it might be useful for languages ​​that don’t easily adapt to a standard keyboard. Speaking much faster anyway, so there is no need to.

Microsoft Translator focuses on split-screen conversation, and the Apple Watch and Android Wear apps, which Google for some reason don’t have, let you quickly translate phrases by simply tapping on your wrist. If you have a smartwatch, Microsoft Translator is the obvious choice. Of course, it doesn’t have many languages, but it covers all the major ones and provides full translation support for most of them. I can’t tell how well the translations of Microsoft’s entire sentences match Google’s brilliant new neural machine translation system, but for most users it will probably be difficult to tell the difference anyway.

You can’t go wrong with any of these translation tools. They both get the job done, and Microsoft has gone to great lengths to compete with the more popular Google tool. In fact, I got into this comparison expecting Google Translate to dominate, but Microsoft Translator impressed me. So much so that I could use it instead of Google Translate on my upcoming trip to Japan.


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